Native American feels Venice HS mascot is racist - WFLA News Channel 8

Native American feels Venice HS mascot is racist

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VENICE, FL (WFLA) -

A Native American activist says Venice High School's mascot is racist.

The mascot is an Indian, and the activist wants to see it gone.

Sal Serbin is proud of his Sioux heritage.

"My great grandfather was in the Battle of Little Big Horn,” he said.

He's the executive director of the Florida chapter for the American Indian Movement.

And it hurts him to see the angry looking Indian logo for Venice High School

"People just don't understand our culture, our history,” he stated.

Serbin recently approached the Sarasota County school board, telling them the Venice High School Indians mascot has got to go.

"The cartoonish figure of it, it's not representative of any of the Indians that actually lived in this area,” he explained. “Venice schools are exploiting our culture by profiting from it.”

He also doesn't like watching his sacred culture ridiculed at football games.

Serbin said, "When you go to their games, some of the things that are done, some of what the opponents do, are really disturbing, of course the other side is trying to get the other side angry but still they're being very racist towards our culture."

Serbin claims the mascot violates the school system's discrimination policy.

School board members listened to his concerns but have not taken action at this time.

The school system was closed on Friday, so no one was available for comment.

But we met some folks around Venice who do not agree with him.

A young woman said, “What If you put a white person in there, are you going to be mad because their white?”

Another man said, “It’s all in what you see, I mean. If that’s what it’s been for all these years, that’s what it is.”

Serbin knows he has critics.

Serbin said, "There are some people that are always going to be against that, they cite tradition. But this is a tradition of racism that needs to stop."

And he's optimistic that one day the mascot will be changed.

“I would like to clean up this area so that my kids don’t have to go through the injustices and racism that I had to when I was a child,” he said.

Serbin is also raising awareness and trying to change Indian mascots at schools throughout the state.

Copyright 2014 WFLA.  All rights reserved.

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